This past Saturday I was on McCarthy Road in Oak Hill for the Tree Planting class for representatives (including Adam Peller!) of the neighborhood groups where Newton Tree Conservancy is planting trees this Saturday, and we got eight of the trees planted. I also met one of the owners of 54 McCarthy, Jody, who is helping plant the trees even though her house is one where we will NOT be planting due to underground gas leaks.
We knew about the leak from the 2010 Newton Natural Gas Leak Tree Survey. It was still there in October when we did our gas leak checks at the tree planting spots. But I was amazed to hear they’ve actually had their gas leak for 18 years!
They noticed the smell not long after they bought the house. Jody and Mae, their former next door neighbor at 8 Hay Road, used to smell it together and regularly called the gas company, who always said it wasn’t serious enough to fix. Over the years Jody and her husband got busy with other issues, and their two kids, and had sort of given up on it getting fixed. Then with the tree planting coming up, she called National Grid in October, and again last Friday. National Grid came out both times, as they are legally required to do within an hour of a gas smell report, and there are fresh spray paint marks in front, but although they said a supervisor would call her, no one has.
This isn’t the only place we’re not planting trees due to gas leaks, even just this fall. There’s another leak on McCarthy, and another at 66 Channing Road. There’s a whole block on Parmenter Road where we were going to plant seven trees in 2010 until we tested, and a few more places where we either couldn’t plant at all or had to avoid the logical planting spot. I’m not saying leaks where there are no trees should get fixed before leaks that are affecting existing trees, but really, how long should someone have to put up with a gas smell in front of their house?
And how much methane, 21 times worse a greenhouse gas than the products of its combustion, has escaped into the atmosphere over the 18 years?